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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture
have a better ability to deal with the disequilibrium associated with continuous changes in technology.
The broad set of considerations associated with pest-control decisions requires more interdisciplinary education in land-grant universities. People trained in life sciences and agriculture should also have a strong background in decision theory, risk evaluation, ethics, and economics to be able to handle pest-control problems in the commercial world. Many of the decisions associated with pest control are subject to public choice and public debate. To obtain rational and efficient outcomes, it is essential that scientists be able to communicate with the public in a clear and nontechnical manner about the tradeoffs associated with alternative pest-control issues.
All citizens should be familiar with the basic principles of applied biology and risk evaluation, which can be provided as part of basic education. The general public, including children from kindergarten to 12th grade, should be educated about basic principles of environmental risk and of pest and disease control.
Agriculture has become more science-based and requires much more specific expertise to enhance productivity. As the support and funding for extension increase, new types of institutions and private consultants emerge. Transmission of knowledge in the past was the responsibility mostly of the public sector, but it has become more privatized. That changes how pesticide-use decisions are made and has introduced into the process a value system that might not always have the public 's interests at its core.
Recommendation 5. The public sector must act on its responsibilityto provide quality education to ensure well-informed decision-makingin both the private and public sectors.
This effort encompasses efforts in the agricultural sector, in the academic sector, and in the public sector at large.
Recommendation 5a. In the agricultural sector, a transition shouldbe made toward principle-based (as opposed to product-based) decision-making.The transition should be encouraged throughout the continuum frombasic to implementation research in universities, in extension, inthe USDA Agricultural Research Service, and among producers.
Formulaic approaches to pest problems that are aimed at yield maximization rather than at sustainability approaches (product-based decision-making) have contributed to many of the problems plaguing agriculture. A sound grasp of fundamental principles should provide